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Creating Space for Art

By Carrie Leigh Dickey, Owner and Visionary of Artfolios


One of my pastimes is gardening. So, no matter the season, my family and I often visit the garden center. I love standing in-between the flowers flats with the sun beating on my back. I enjoy perusing new varieties and reading tags. I tend to stop and smell the moist soil and watch the bees and butterflies frolic around. We debate, and we select until our carts are full. As we load the car, it becomes abundantly obvious that I will be sitting with plants at my feet and plants in my lap. We arrive home and ask: “now what?”


Shopping for art can be very similar. If you are like me, you visit a gallery to buy art that speaks to you. You spend time looking. You smell the paint. You talk to the artist. You step back and think. You select. You carefully load the car. You determine that it will all fit, but only if you cradle a piece in your lap. You arrive home and wonder: “now what?”


How do you create space for art? Based on the most common questions I am asked, below are a few tips and tricks for how to tackle the installing of art...


What type of nail should I use?

All walls are different. For many years I kept a sundry of nails, hooks, screws, and anchors in my kit. Today, my toolbox is full of one type that works for most applications: OOK padded picture hangers. They have hooks for small (5lbs) art up to large (100lb) art. Their basic set works for hanging in plaster, wood, and drywall. Additionally, they have specialty hooks for hanging into brick. The nails only make pin size holes in your walls. Their cushioned backs keep the hooks from scratching the paint. (


Do you suggest gallery wall arrangements for art?

Honestly, for most art applications in a home today, no. Gallery walls tend to be busy thus not allowing you to stop and enjoy your collections. I prefer to give space or “breathing room” to artwork. You may ask: “in the olden days, didn’t everyone hang in gallery walls?” True, but we have to remember those large walls were in castle-like mansions and the galleries were full of very large paintings. Consequently, gallery wall application did allow space for the viewer to enjoy each piece. We have smaller walls and tend to collect smaller pieces.


Where do I hang big art?

Don’t be afraid to purchase and place big art in your house. My suggestion is to leave breathing room to the left and right of the art. If your wall is 65-inches-wide, you can safely install a piece that is 48 to 52 inches wide leaving 6-8 inches to the right and left of the art. Do not place art corner to corner—meaning you don’t want a 64-inch piece of art on a 65-inch wall.


Where do I hang tiny art?

Tiny art is fun to collect! I have three ideas for showcasing these types of collections: stack them, easel them, and frame them big. 1) Stacking tiny art can be very fun! Think about hanging 2-5 pieces of tiny art one above the other. This can be a powerful option when you select multiple artworks that corelate in some fashion—color, theme, same artists, size. Center the pieces above each other giving 2-3 inches of space in between their tops and bottoms. 2) Decorative tabletop easels are a great solution to highlight your tiny art collection. Place these on desks, countertops, and tables. If you ever used to watch The Queen’s Christmas greetings, she would do something similar with her family portraits on her desk. This is a very classy option! 3) Consider displaying a tiny piece in a large frame. As example, I have two 4-inch x 4-inch pieces that are framed and matted in a 20-inch x 20-inch frames. I hang them side by side. This option gives something small a big presence. (One tip: don’t hang tiny art above your couch. When choosing for this location, think statement piece!)


When I am ready to install, how high do I hang the art?

This is a great question! In my opinion, most art is hung too high. The general rule of thumb I use is based on the Smithsonian Museum design standard of “60 on center.” Measure from your floor (not baseboard!) up to 60 inches. Make a small pencil mark. Measure the height of the artwork you will be installing and divide that height in half giving you a “half height.” Add the “half height” to 60 and that is where the top of your artwork should be located. Let’s imagine hanging a 48-inch-tall piece of art. Half of 48 is 24. Measure 24 inches above your 60-inch pencil mark. Once installed, the top of your artwork should be 84 inches from the ground. Hanging art “60 on center” makes art accessible to all peoples: tall—short, young—old, sitting—standing.


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